Opening Hours: Fri-Sat 11pm till last customer
Feis Kontrol Rating: Tough - 4/5
Address: Rochdelskaya Ul., 15 (down driveway)
M: Barrikadnaya/Ulitsa 1905 Goda
Phone: +7 (495) 255-5354
Dyagilev is back! Well, half of it... On second thoughts, not really- but Famous sure does look like someone chopped Dyagilev in half. Just to make sure you don't get the two confused after your 16th vodka (if you can afford them) and start digging through the floor of the club to try and find a downstairs bathroom, they have thoughtfully plastered the name of the club (remember: FAMOUS) on every space large enough to put it.
Famous is located in a nondescript building down a driveway around the corner from Opera. It might be hard to find, except for the name FAMOUS on every square inch of the outside of the building too, and that it houses the new ultra-exclusive Vanilla Ninja club on the 2nd floor.
The club is run by the same crew that used to operate First, and the Feis Kontroller has been resurrected from First. Good news for those who were on the club scene a few years ago, but it seems to be taking him a few weeks to figure out that Moscow has changed a little in the intervening period.
The entrance leads you to what can best be described as a staging area, a black and undecorated room with a bar in the centre and a couch or two. It's a nice place to return to for a slightly better chance at conversation, or to allow your vision to recover before you permanently see "FAMOUS" written everywhere you look.
Twin corridors lead to the main club itself, which is an amphitheater style, a central bar, with VIP tables rising in tiers on either side. It's kind of "Opera meets Dyagilev" in layout, but it's much smaller than either, and the overwhelming impression is of Dyagilev, with the overlapping balconies, raised stage and runway above the bar, and the enormous multimedia screens on the walls.
At this point it's important to note that Famous is designed with VIP's in mind. If you're not VIP (or famous, presumably), you're nobody in this club, and even the cheaper VIP tables are crammed together. For the plebians in the non-VIP centre floor, the sight lines in the club are terrible, you can't see the dancers or shows on the stage above, and the fancy effects that produce flames and fountains spill over the edge and literally rain on the patrons below.
A corridor at the back of the room leads to a cramped unisex bathroom, with seemingly very few cubicles. They're well-appointed and soundproofing doesn't appear to be an issue. The VIP bathrooms upstairs are another story. They're plushly appointed and the size of a small apartment.
The DJ's I've heard so far have been pretty good. Music flavour tends Russkie-pop House with occasional flashes of creativity. I would put it as mostly Opera, with flashes of Rai, a touch of Most, and just a hint of Dyagilev. In other words- good, but nothing you haven't heard before. The sound and laser system is really impressive.
The crowd, as per usual in a new club, so far seems mainly to be standing around and gaping (and checking out who's there), and there's little relaxing and dancing, with the exception of the statuesque models at the ultra-VIP raised ringside tables, who if not exactly hoofing, are at least swaying, clapping, and providing a visually pleasing counterpoint for their typically less ravishing hosts, as well as for the lithely writhing go-go dancers on podiums and the stage. I think if the drink prices weren't so ridiculous, people would relax, have a few more drinks, and let the fun begin. That said, other than the staging lounge, there's not much in the way of nooks and crannies for people to get to know each other.
Which brings me to my biggest beef about Famous (aside from the stupid FAMOUS signs everywhere- did I mention that?). The prices are ludicrous, especially in the light of the recently opened Soho, where drink prices are in line with other clubs, yet the design and construction of which would have cost many times Famous. 2000+ rubles (~$100) is ridiculous for a few simple mixed drinks. But it's a casual reminder that as with the rest of Moscow, if you can't pay, then don't play.
Overall, while I recognise that the tone of this review is not exactly glowing, Moscow Maximum remains optimistic about Famous (and excited about Vanilla Ninja, but that's a topic for another review). I hope that once the Feis Kontrol gets better (really random crowd first few weekends), people get familiar with the place, it should be able to develop a decent vibe. It's pure fantasy to dream they might lower the prices, so drink up before you go. Given the pedigree of the operators, none of these issues are insurmountable. It's a beautiful club, good location, good DJ's, but unlikely to be the next Dyagilev that so many clubbers seem to be pining for.